We’ve spent a lot of 2017 visiting restaurants that are new to Reading and Berks County.
But sometimes, you have to also experience the classics that we’ve neglected, places like Reading’s Pike Cafe.
The “World Famous” Pike Cafe is a true gem in the city. The corner of Pike and Moss isn’t exactly in a part of the city that sees a lot of outside traffic – except for those coming to the Pike.
One of the best parts about the Pike is that it has one of the largest parking lots in the city. And it needs it. We arrived at about 5:15 p.m. on a Saturday night and got the last available table.
Take my advice and make a reservation, especially for the weekend dinner rush.
We were led around the U-shaped bar and into the back corner where they packed in the two-seat tables.
It was our first time at the Pike so we had to try the wings – a perennial contender in every “Best Of” competition.
After my first bite, I get it.
The wings are advertised as Bell & Evans organic wings. Anytime you are ordering an organic protein, you can expect it to be smaller – without the growth hormones, the animals are a more natural size.
But what the organic wings lacked in size, they made up for in flavor. It’s everything that chicken should taste like, and without the excess meat, there’s a crunch to every bite. The wings were also able to absorb more of the flavor from the Montreal dry rub we chose.
Sauces and dry rubs aside, these are the only wings in Berks County that I would order naked (the wings, not me).
I got another taste of Bell & Evans chicken with my entree, the chicken bruschetta sandwich.
The sandwich featured a grilled chicken breast with house-made bruschetta, asiago cheese, balsamic drizzle and a bun branded with the Pike logo, just so there are no doubts where the sandwich came from.
First, the chicken was excellent. It was juicy, flavorful and clearly not processed. The bruschetta was very good, though I would have preferred smaller pieces of tomato (the large chunks tended to fall out of the bun). The asiago cheese was the perfect choice for the sandwich, and it had just the right amount of balsamic.
Toasting the bun didn’t just add branding, it added a crunchy texture that the sandwich needed to make it truly feel like bruschetta.
I almost forgot to mention the fries. Hand-cut, skin-on, golden brown – this is how fries are supposed to be. I wouldn’t call them the best in town, but I definitely enjoyed them.
Julie went with another Pike Cafe original dish, the pepperoni cheesesteak supreme wrap.
Ribeye chipped steak, pepperoni, mushrooms, caramelized onion, marinara and Provolone were combined in a flour wrap.
It tasted exactly as I imagined it would. While the steak was the base, the pepperoni came through strong. In the one bite Julie allowed me to have, I could pick up the onion and mushrooms, and the melted Provolone helped pull everything together.
Skipping the fries, Julie opted instead for the potato chips – Sweet Maui onion flavored. If you like onions, you’ll appreciate this as a refreshing change from a typical kettle chip. If you don’t like onions, get the fries.
We were comfortably full after our entrees, but I couldn’t leave the Pike without dessert, or more specifically, the Pike Crème Cafe.
The crème cafe features deep-fried ice cream with whipped cream, honey and chocolate syrup served on a powdered sugar tortilla. Admit it, you couldn’t pass that up either.
We probably would have been more than satisfied with the fried ice cream. The addition of a crisp outer shell is always welcome with vanilla ice cream. The tortilla was good – a fried tortilla shell like you would get in a taco salad – but it was almost too much fried food for dessert.
Still, I didn’t regret it.
That was more than enough for us to leave the Pike Cafe satisfied. Our total was just shy of $40 (one iced tea was also included in that). All told, it felt like a reasonable price for everything that we had.
I don’t know if the Pike Cafe really is “World Famous,” but it’s definitely famous in Reading and Berks County for good reason.
Once you visit for the first time, you’ll get it, too.
930 Pike St
Reading, PA 19604